Workplace productivity may seem like a simple enough concept on the surface—it’s getting stuff done at your business, right? Well, sometimes it’s not quite that simple. A few more factors to consider enable you to understand your workplace’s productivity and find ways to impact it positively.
Standard definitions of workplace productivity tend to focus on how much work is completed at a specific place (your office) within a particular time frame. This can be quantified by looking at the output per hour worked or the output per worker over a set amount of time.
However, both of these metrics are a little limiting to get to the bottom of your workplace’s productivity. You need to look at the type of work being done as well. It’s not simply about outputting as much as possible, but rather about ensuring the right work is achieved by employees who bring their full energy and unique experience to the table.
Workplace productivity is, simply put, getting your business’s most important tasks done efficiently.
Low or inefficient workplace productivity means that work isn’t getting done! What’s more, if employees feel like they aren’t being meaningfully productive—and are instead doing “busy work” such as sitting in pointless meetings—it can seriously impact morale, which can lead to low employee retention or staff burnout.
Improved- or high-workplace productivity, on the other hand, is about making the most of the resources you already have, which can boost your business without any extra investment. What’s more, employees engaged in meaningful work means better morale and all the benefits that come with it.
So, with that in mind, how can you positively impact the productivity of your business? First, let’s take a look at some ways to increase the efficiency of productivity in the workplace.
How to Increase the Efficiency of Workplace Productivity
Productivity is ticking off the most important tasks as efficiently as possible, so ask yourself, what is important? With that clear, here are 11 proven techniques to improve workplace productivity.
Focus on one thing at a time
While people once aspired to be the best multitaskers possible, we increasingly realize that focusing on core tasks will actually contribute more to workplace productivity. Trying to do too much at the same time can stretch your resources too thin and lead to tasks being done poorly or inefficiently.
Encourage employees to focus on one task at a time so as to do that one task well.
Factor in breaks
Being productive doesn’t mean working every minute of every day. Employees will likely be far more efficient when given time and space to relax. Trying to make people work too hard will lead to fatigue, burnout, and ultimately less productivity.
Try to refocus how you measure work at your business. Move away from tracking how much time a person is working to whether or not important tasks are being done. It’s still valuable to see how that time is used, but if people are achieving your business goals, then things are moving in the right direction.
As mentioned, it is still important to analyze how time is used in your business, which can be done in a number of ways, such as tracking tasks completed per day or time per task. There is plenty of software that will allow employees to track their time, and the right app or platform for you will depend on your company.
It’s your job to take those time-tracking metrics and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if a relatively simple task is taking way longer than expected, it’s important to find out why. You might discover an employee lacks the right tools or training for the job—fixing this will mean the task can be completed more quickly and boost employee confidence.
Set realistic deadlines and stick to them
Nothing demotivates people quite like facing an impossible task. So, of course, you should always have deadlines, but make sure they are realistic and achievable. Otherwise, people are liable to give up before they’ve even begun.
Sticking to those deadlines is also very important since if they are too soft, they become worthless. Employees will feel like they have worked hard to achieve something that ultimately didn’t matter. Hard deadlines can also help with our next tip, which is leaving perfectionism behind.
Perfectionism is counterproductive
There will always be a better-designed poster or cleaner-looking website. However, several factors limit employees, and at the end of the day, there isn’t even such a thing as “perfect.” Therefore, trying to aim for the “ideal” can be counterproductive, as employees keep working on something that is plenty good enough instead of moving on to other tasks, subsequently reducing workplace productivity.
Employees and managers can get so caught up in trying to make something perfect that the task at hand ends up incomplete!
Having some kind of physical activity in your day is an essential part of staying healthy, motivated, and focused at work. Within your workplace, this could mean encouraging employees to move about or stretch during breaks.
To facilitate this and ensure people aren’t stuck at their desks, it is important to provide an area that employees can use in this way. This could be a large break room, but ideally would be an outdoor/green space.
Could that meeting be an email?
An unnecessary meeting can be counterproductive and ultimately reduce workplace productivity since it makes employees feel like they are doing meaningless work. Think hard about if you actually need a meeting, or whether the same results could be accomplished with an email, call, or one-on-one chat.
Break your day into blocks
Using time cycles, which break each day into smaller blocks of work and rest, can help keep employees motivated and on track. These cycles mean that there is a clear time limit on each task, resulting in putting the maximum amount of energy possible into a task without the risk of burning out, with everyone aware there is a break at the end.
Find a rhythm that works for you and encourage employees to do the same. It’s important to be flexible so as to allow for each person to find their own flow.
Make your space comfortable
This advice is for you, all your employees, and the entire office space. We spend a lot of time at work, and making the office an enjoyable place to be, in terms of ambiance and comfort, can make a huge difference to workplace productivity.
Plants are a great option to spruce up any office and help boost mood and morale at the same time. That said, it’s important to talk to your team about what they want as well as giving employees the freedom to make their space their own.
Delegate and encourage proactiveness
A productive workplace isn’t possible without proper delegation. Choose the right people for the right job, and then let them loose on it. If every decision has to pass through you, then the entire business will be bottlenecked, and work will seriously suffer.
Similarly, employees should be encouraged to be proactive in their roles. If they see an opportunity for improvement or space for development, they should have the confidence and comfort to pursue it and communicate it to you.
Feedback is an important part of workplace productivity, and it should run both ways. First, you should set aside the time and resources needed to encourage and motivate your employees in their work. This means giving valuable feedback for positive reinforcement.
Second, you should establish channels for employees to give you feedback. This helps create a happy and more balanced workplace, which in turn improves productivity. It also helps give people some control over the direction of their work, which is vital for individual wellbeing.
What Leads Workers to Be Inefficient?
All our points so far have focused on ways to positively impact workplace productivity, but it’s also worth looking out for some of the major issues that can lead to workplace inefficiency. We’ve identified two of the main ones below, as well as some of the ways to beat them!
Distractions and Interruptions
Workplaces are inherently distracting places, with hustle and bustle a normal part of most peoples’ days. On top of this, when you’re in the office, there will no doubt be people dropping in for quick updates or even just a chat.
Add to this the slew of notifications employees receive from all their work-based apps, and it’s a surprise anybody gets anything done at all.
Resolving this involves consolidating your tasks and your tools. To bring together tasks, create blocks of work—some blocks that contain small tasks and other blocks that are for more complex tasks, aka “deep work”. Once you’ve blocked out the latter, ensure everyone knows not to interrupt you during this time and find a distraction-free space, such as an isolated office.
The same method should be encouraged among all employees, where practical, so they can be more productive in their own work.
Similarly, tools should be consolidated to reduce the “bings” and “beeps” of a dozen different apps. A platform such as Spike brings together all the productivity tools you need, including Conversational Email, Calendar, Tasks and To-Dos, Video Calls, and more. This means no need to switch between apps and far fewer distractions to pull focus from your work.
Another major issue that can lead to workplace inefficiency is poor communication. This could be between you and your employees, between individual team members, or between your staff and clients. If any channel fails, then workplace productivity suffers.
Clear communication begins by creating a workplace environment where people feel that they are actually able to communicate with one another. Beyond this, you should focus on having the right tools for the job. Of course, precisely what you need will depend on your work, but there are a few essentials that will almost certainly help.
Spike, for example, offers Conversational Email, which cuts away the clutter of signatures and headers for cleaner emails and more effective communication. Pair this with the in-built Video and Voice Calls and Voice Messages, and you have all the communication tools you need in a single platform.